Shirin Sharif

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Head of Sales Operations & Strategy, AWS, Amazon
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Shirin Sharif
Shirin Sharif
Head of Sales Operations & Strategy, AWS, AmazonNovember 16

Titles mean different things at different companies, so I'll answer the question more along the skills you need to be promoted to more senior roles within revenue Ops. 

The big skill is the ability to think big and think ahead. It's very easy to spend your entire week or month fire fighting as a line manager. As you grow your role and scope, you need to allocate time to think about the future and innovate. How can the company accelerate growth? Reduce costs? How does the team further the goals of the business? How do we measure the strategic programs? How do you retain and develop talent? These are questions that great managers start thinking about and they are table stakes for "senior managers / directors."

Shirin Sharif
Shirin Sharif
Head of Sales Operations & Strategy, AWS, AmazonNovember 16

I always ask questions related to a business problem that I am trying to solve, in order to assess hypothesis-driven, structured problem solving and quantitative reasoning / analysis. An example would be "How would you determine the cause for increased churn in the business?". I want to see how candidates think through the various drivers and how they would test their hypotheses to come up with an answer. Bonus points if it's an actionable driver that can actually reduce churn (as an example). 

Shirin Sharif
Shirin Sharif
Head of Sales Operations & Strategy, AWS, AmazonNovember 16

The most common career paths I've seen are for Rev Ops managers to move up the ranks within their orgs or move into Sales orgs, or less commonly, move into product orgs. 

The easiest transition is to take on more scope within the revenue Ops org, eg regional to global or taking on more sub functions. 

For managers looking for something a bit more different or wanting to start a CRO or COO career path, transitioning to sales manager / sales leader roles can also be possible. It's a good way to "own the number" and take on a larger team size and truly execute against the strategies you have been planning, albeit at a smaller scale. 

Another path that I've seen is to move into the product function. This is harder to do and dependent on forming strong relationships and project interactions while in Rev ops, but it's certainly doable!

Shirin Sharif
Shirin Sharif
Head of Sales Operations & Strategy, AWS, AmazonNovember 16

The hard skills are table stakes: ability to analyze data and turn data into insights

The most important soft skill, and the x-factor in my opinion, is having a thick skin. This is a thankless role at times, where you get blamed when things are wrong but get minimal or no credit when the sales team is on track. It takes a certain type of personality to be okay with that. 

Other important soft skills are around stakeholder management, cross-functional collaboration, and executive presence. You'll be working directly with VPs across sales and other functions so you need to be able to have a point of view and share it articulately and succinctly, while also displaying empathy and compassion with the sales team. 

Shirin Sharif
Shirin Sharif
Head of Sales Operations & Strategy, AWS, AmazonNovember 16

My answer is actually not revenue ops specific. But here are my answers:

1) Growth- the rising tide lifts all ships. The higher the growth rate, the more opportunities you will have to scale the business and grow your career in parallel. 

2) People / culture - make sure you like who you are working for / with and how work is being done 

3) Role - what exactly will you be doing? Is this aligned with your skillset / strengths / interests?

4) Industry - tech vs. non tech / actually product function and buyer type. D2C vs. B2B. These all have trade offs and you have to decide what you want. 

I don't think you can be pick about all four categories but the first two are my most important ones and then I usually prioritize #3 over #4 but everyone has a different calculus on what's most important to them. 

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Head of Sales Operations & Strategy, AWS at Amazon
Revenue Operations AMA Contributor
Top 10 Revenue Operations Contributor